Sunday, July 29, 2012

Steelers String Art

I don't think crafting can really be complete until you spend time working with handtools.  While dremmels are pretty much the most awesome tool to be introduced to the home crafting environment there are also other other valid tools.  Hammers, screwdrivers, chisels, dremmels... the list is endless

& every one of those attachments is necessary
 & yeah, this is why the dremmel is awesome

Every comp sci gal needs a purse of floppies

The tool of choice for this project was a hammer.  The original goal of this was to use up supplies I already owned.   The only supply I ended up already having was the string.  Whoops... On a positive note I got to find a new art store while trying to find board to nail into.  (

Shown: work of a not so starving programmer
 After totally posing as an art student doing "mixed media" I came out with the extra supplies I needed.  Hey, it included string, nails, and paint.  That's 2 more medias than most art.  And I got to shop for craft supplies at Lowes.  That in and of itself the coolest part of this project.

Paint - acrylic, black
Nails - Wire Nails (flat top) 5/8 x 18
String - Crochet threads (grey, yellow, red, blue)
Hammer - I used a huge one, I'd try to use smaller mallets so you can navigate into tighter spaces
Board - 8"x8" Wood board
Steelers Logo
Tweezers - optional

Paint the entire board black.  Yes, this includes the edges.  Because if I've learned anything it's that the edges matter.  Paint the top and top part of the sides first then after that dries paint the bottom of the sides.  I did two coats of paint on the top because it was really important to me to have a consistent color.

The perfectionist came out when I was all about getting that top as crisp as possible.

Place the logo on the board to get an idea of where you want to place it.  I printed out a picture that I found online because luckily there aren't that many variations on the Steelers logo & it's simple.  But as soon as I try frehanding those circles it'll be all over.

Yeah, see that'd never happen in the wild.
After laying down the logo, the fun part starts.  Start making marks on the logo randomly spaced along the outline of logo.  We want to keep the logo interesting by having the marks not directly lined up because otherwise we'll end up with a really boring line pattern where everything just crosses at the same points.  I ended up generally putting 8 nails along each quarter of the inside circle and 9 along the outside.  And for the stars I marked each point, the mid section of each arc and used 3 nails evenly spaced in between the midpoint of the side and the tip of the star.

It's like playing the game where you jump pegs over each other!
Important!  We are just making small marks, not fully hammering it in.  Unless you want the logo on top which is cool I guess.  Totally makes the black paint worthless though.  & you'd probably want to decopauge it first. Variation A.  Anyway, after you're done poking holes it should like vaguely like this.

Yeah, don't know what's going on there
Now that we have beautiful pattern of holes, it's time to actually put the nails in.  Hammer the nails firmly into the board.  You don't need to attack it, just make sure you can't pull them out with pressure.  The smaller hammer is perfect for these corners & tight edges.  If you have big fingers like I do, try the nail with the tweezers.  Keep the nails as straight as possible.

Steady, steady
After you have the all the nails in place you can start running the string.  Or if you're tired you can just leave it like this.  Variation B.

What a stud
Create a slip knot and loop around a nail.  Not sure how to tie a slip knot? Here's a refresher.  Wrap around the outside edge of the circle and then the zig zag across the nails.

The edges and the zig zag

I've never been good at random patterns.  It's ok, if you're not either.  Luckily the way the string is woven along the nails doesn't really matter.  The only thing that matters is there are no significant gaps.  And keep the lines interesting by avoiding crossing the same path twice.  It's not scientific unless you're talking about the random properties of quarks.  Then you're either really at the right place (crafting + geek!) or the wrong one (I honestly don't even know where to send you... try Bill Nye?)

Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!
Continue with the other colors.  With the stars, put the first loop in the center point where they all meet do the outline first and then try to hit every nail at least 1 time except the tips.  We want to keep them pointy so tracing around the outline is good enough.  To end, cut the string,  tie a slip knot, and loop around the nails until you run out without any significant slack.  You've got tons of options and don't go about cutting the string until you're happy with the coverage of the areas.

Does not produce music
Use the tweezers to put the loop over one of the nails.

Blur however does
Aaaaand continue until you've got all the stars done.  And you come out with something that would fit pretty well with the game room to remind your fellow pool players that they're behind the Steel Curtain


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Combine Ranges of Integers

At one point in an application I needed to be able to combine a range of numbers into a comma-delimited string of ints with the fun added twist of combining all sequential ints together into a range.  Stupid exact matching tool spec.... So instead of writing a new tool to do the same validation check (because I'm crazy but also the other *azy: lazy) I wrote a method to create the combined ranges.

This is in Groovy and quite frankly may be able to be more efficient, but this is what I pounded out that's quick to solve this problem.  Improve if you want!

If you find improvements, feel free to post, all I ask is to please make sure you've tested your code before posting.  Nothing is sadder than getting someone's code from online and then having to debug.  Though it's the easiest thing to blame in your work ;)


Monday, July 16, 2012

Crayon Art as all the cool kids are doing it

There have been a lot of pictures of melted crayons on canvas floating around Pinterest lately or not so lately I can never tell because when you're on there, time is kinda distorted.  I've seen things that I shouldn't have seen namely the bottom of the continuous line of pins.  On the front "everything" page.

No one should see that.  I had to go sit outside for 15 minutes to counterbalance.

The thing I've noticed that there are very few examples of how to do it.  Because as it turns out it's a bit harder to actually harder to melt wax than you'd think.  Yeah.  I'm demoting my crafting abilities for that one.  I got a huge donation of used crayons (thank you used school supplies) to dig into.  64 super box of crayons with included crayon sharpener!  With special kid created colors.  For the folks at home they were neon.

I keep a clean workbench ;)  It's actually supplies from the sun art I wrote about earlier.  It's blog meta!

My spin on this was separating out the different colors and create a panel of each that I could then use interchangeably in displays.  Since I had 64 different colors to choose from it's not hard to find enough of each to be able to fill a 4"x12" panel.  I decided to go with blue, brown, and green to start because they're colors that can be appreciated anywhere including my bathroom which has the blue/brown/tan/eggshell theme going for it.  Green had the most diverse of the color options in the box.  Turns out blue is really not a diverse color in terms of what I had available in that box.  Red really isn't either because it easily bleeds into orange.  Then you sit there trying to figure out where to draw the line and why "red-orange" looks more orange then red.

The browns were diverse and glorious.

11 crayons fit across the panel and give plenty of room for the wax to run down for effect.  & it doesn't have to run for very long as crayon likes to remain in a solid state perfect for coloring.  I stripped off the wrappers of the crayons and they hold onto canvas with your basic craft glue.

The diversity of the color blue

When doing this craft make sure you're working on a easily cleanable surface.  I laid out a tarp as my carpet had already had the joy of red acrylic paint.  Which can be easily differentiated from the orange paint.

I'm never getting the security deposit back on this place...

I used the low setting on my hairdryer with a "focus cone" for straightening as well as placing direct blasts of hot air to a concentrated band space.  Since the straightening out is of wax from these wonderfully round crayons, I recommend using this attachment if you've got it.  If not, don't sweat it; let the crayons do that in a few minutes.  Crayons run really well, it just has to get started.  Since the makers didn't want it falling apart in kid's hands, you've got to apply the heat relatively close to the crayons to get it started.

Crayola doesn't respect the hula hoop.  Rose Art may fare better

Also since you are blowing hot air at something that melts, you want to make sure that you're forcing it in the right direction.  Disclaimer: I've tried typing out the sentence about angling the dryer down but it just forced too many bad puns that I'm just going to let you assemble your own from the words "down" "blow" "aim" "lightly" and "oscillate".

While I'm all for decorating the borders, the splatter tends to dominate this

 Try to uniformly heat the crayon which is difficult, but after it gets started it's basically a river and your responsibility is to keep it flowing down the canvas.  The important thing is to not keep constant power on the crayons, if you do you end up with more of a running blob rather than streaks.

Checking for evidence of all the colors running.  Blue: check.

This can be a technique if you want it to be and doesn't look all that bad in the end.  I quickly came to realize people keep the wrappers on so the crayons stay separate at the top and look very true to their original form.  *shrug* I didn't want wrappers maring the color pallet.  Actually since the crayons were preused some had already been through the crayon sharpener in the back of the box and the frayed edges would have killed me on the display.  Alternate heat/no heat while evenly applying heat to all the crayons until you're happy with how the bottom 3/4 of the canvas looks.

Kermit was right.  It's tricky getting it to be green

Pro tip: the longer you try to heat the crayons and try to "fix" it, the worse you usually make it.  This whole heating process can take less than 10 minutes because the more you try to apply heat to the already hot crayons the more you're going to end up with more wax which usually just leads to a wax tidal wave running down the front of the panel.

Actually a fun follow up project would be to use the wax drippings from the melting.  Even though you're aiming down, crafting has an ability to get everywhere.  I love how my tarp looks now that I've finished these 3.  Should've done all of these overtop of black canvas for lines and random splatters of wax...  Looks like I'll just have to do some more!

Missed opportunity #1

So short summary:
1) apply heat close to crayons
2) angle down to force blowing the wax down; still cover work area
3) keep heat source moving for even distribution
4) less is more


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Simple Salmon Artichoke Mixin

When it comes to planning meals my pantry looks like this:

When coming back from the grocery store and trying to put food away it looks like this:

I don't know where it comes from I swear.  Maybe it has something to do with the 3 different types of flour and the tuna packets deciding it's a good day to multiply, maybe it has something to do with my inability to say no to a deal. (not without coups, baby. not without coups)  So it was time to say no to having to run out to my second most visited store *cough* Kroger *cough* and use what my pantry/fridge/secret hiding space above my fridge (hint: it's where the liquor & chocolate are) produced.

Simple Salmon Artichoke "Mixin" -> stealing straight from Cold Stone on that name because this works best as an addition for whatever pasta/rice/bread product of you choice it.  I had mine with some gnocchi following the theme of how did that sneak in there!?!

1 can salmon
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Italian herbs, aka parsley, lemon zest, McCormick's special blend
2 artichoke hearts, chopped
2-3 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 cup parmesan cheese shredded

Open the salmon into a bowl and chop up  Add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese & oil and mix.

The next part I do because I love everything having a warm dinner.  Heat the oil in a sauce pan; add mixture.  Stir for a few minutes until slightly warm.  Fold in cheese.

Mix til the cheese is a bit soft then turn off the heat.  Serve over your choice of pasta!  Easy, quick and helps cut through the endless stock of... seriously?  Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, AND pistachios?  Tune in tomorrow for "simple nut medley"